• SimonSays Showdown

    POSTED Jan 27, 2011
    Much has been written about Muhammad Ali’s epic battle with George Foreman on Oct. 30, 1974. Dubbed the “Rumble in the Jungle,” the heavyweight boxing title bout in Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) helped launch Don King's career as a professional boxing promoter (I guess Brett Michaels was right: every rose does have its thorns).

    Long before the opening round bell sounded and Ali made pugilistic history, however, the Kentucky-born fighter known as the “Louisville Lip” and, later, “The Greatest” showed his softer side by composing a poem in honor of the occasion. In one of many related versions,
    Ali quipped:

    “I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like a bee
    George can’t hit what his hands can’t see
    Now you see me, now you don’t
    He thinks he will, but I know he won’t
    They tell me George is good, but I’m twice as nice
    And I’m gonna stick to his butt like white on rice.”

    I thought of this masterwork the other day, as I downed a cupful of raw Cadbury eggs on my way to the meat market, otherwise known as Bally Total Fitness (I couldn’t find an actual meat locker in my area), to train for an upcoming verbal sparring session with Claire Novak.

    Who is
    Claire Novak, some may ask, and why am I debating her? Well, Ms. Novak is an award-winning journalist who once wrote for Bloodhorse Magazine and, now, regularly lifts her pen for ESPN. Recently, she received an e-mail from a guy named Tom De Martini, who chastised her for not betting on the races she covers. Her public response, “Love of the game,” which appeared on the ESPN Website on Saturday, is the driving force behind our little tête-à-tête.

    While I’m generally not a fan of angry missives (especially those accompanied by a brick and the sound of breaking glass — damn in-laws, I told them we’d return the casserole dish this weekend), I have to admit I understood and even sympathized with where Mr. De Martini was coming from.

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    So, I invited the esteemed Ms. Novak on my Friday “SimonSays Racing” podcast, which airs live at 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern, to discuss the issue of fans vs. bettors: which does the Sport of Kings need more of? I’ll be representing the bettors, while Ms. Novak will plead the fans’ case. And, just like Ali, I have written a poem on the eve of battle:

    “I’m gonna float like a butterfly and sting like Charlie Sheen’s pee
    To make Claire understand this bettor’s solemn plea
    Takeouts keep on rising, while racing keeps declining
    And bettors foot the bill whenever the industry starts whining
    I don’t need great races to enjoy a day at the track
    I just need race officials that I know have got my back.”

    Tale of the Tape:




    SimonSays Handicapping Challenge Kicks Off

    Speaking of betting, a couple of weeks ago, I challenged both public and private horserace handicappers to do what I do and prove their mettle at the windows by allowing me to record and track at least some of their picks on a weekly basis. My goal behind this challenge was to, hopefully, show “newbies” as well as potential “newbies” that the races can, indeed, be beaten —in a variety of ways.

    Sadly, my casting call was met with about the same amount of enthusiasm as a plea for photographic evidence at a Bigfoot Convention (yeah, they actually have those). Nonetheless, one brave soul did step forward and I’m hoping others will follow.

    Anthony Kelzenberg is a Facebook friend and former podcast guest that teaches math and science in the great state of Minnesota. Below are Anthony’s first round of free selections for Friday, Jan. 28, 2010:

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 1 * 6 Furlongs * Dirt

    20 units to WIN on 4-The Pia Angel
    3 units EXACTA 4-3 and 2 units EXACTA 3-4
    6 units DAILY DOUBLE 4-2


    Rationale: The #4 is faster out of the gate than the #3 and is in-form.

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 5 * 5 Furlongs * Turf

    10 units to WIN on 3-Unicorn Girl

    Rationale: Ben Perkins can crank a horse up and this gal has good works; probable loose leader.

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 7 * 1-1/8 Miles * Turf

    10 units to WIN on 2-Br. Alexander

    Rationale: #2 has typical comeback work pattern for trainer Kenny McPeek and may have value in talented field. The tandem of McPeek and jockey Julien Leparoux hit at a 22% clip.

    Gulfstream Park
    Race 8 * 5 Furlongs * Turf

    20 units to WIN on 9-Beer Stein (turf only)
    6 units DAILY DOUBLE 9 with 1,6

    Rationale: #9 may have been a short horse last time and should be fitter. Plus, the #9 is a class standout and might be the quality speed too.

    Total Expenditure: 83 units (a unit is simply one’s base bet).
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